Defining Support, The Cancer Mom Series: Laura

Defining Support, The Cancer Warrior Mom Series is a collection of thoughts from many incredible Cancer Moms and how they define support. 

By Laura Fedak

Laura is Mom to Madison, who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma a little over a year ago. Madison is currently cancer free and learning to walk strong again!

It was thirteen months to the day that I heard the words that would completely change what “normal” meant to our family.  On May 5th, 2018, I remember sitting in the conference room on the 11th floor of LCH and looking in the eyes of a stranger as he told me my sweet Madison had osteosarcoma.  It wasn’t “sugar-coated”; it was cancer and that was it.  The team told us of the treatment plan and timelines.  We got a rundown of all the medicines along with what to expect before, during, and after chemo.  We heard 15-letter names of medicines I could not pronounce (but in time they became part of my everyday vocabulary).  They told us a lot, but what they did not tell us, what they could not tell us, was how to feel.  They could not tell me that the moments before her first chemo treatment I was going question if what I was allowing to be put into Madison’s body was okay.  They couldn’t tell me that after the tenth time of being woken up in the same night by the words, “Mommy, I need to go potty,” I would roll over on the pull-out sofa and beg for this all to be over.  They couldn’t tell me that I was going to question every single scan, every dose of radiation, and every procedure Madison would be put through.  They could not tell me that I was going to consider breaking her out of the hospital on many occasions just to take her to McDonalds for some french-fries that she wasn’t going to eat.   These amazing doctors that I still trust with Madison’s life could not tell me how to handle the seemingly impossible moments, but what they did tell me was that whatever I was feeling was normal.  And that was the beginning of me learning that my support would come in some pretty amazing ways.   

Some people supported us from a distance:  a card in the mail, a call when I least expected it, or a text that included a Bible verse I didn’t know I needed to hear.  Other people needed to be close to show their support.  A lot came to the hospital and brought toys for Madison, I think mainly because they need to see that she was okay.  And there were those that couldn’t bear to see Madison hooked up to machines, and they came by once we were home.  No matter how they supported us, the fact of the matter is that they did it because they knew we needed it.  

For me, support came when I least expected it.  Like when my mom drove two hours just to let me go out for a run because she knew I needed a break.  Or when my best friend called and I told her repeatedly, “I’m fine, I don’t need anything,” yet she shows up two hours later anyway with games for Madison and chocolate for me.  Support came when my entire school rallied behind Madison and created a Relay for Life team in her honor.  It happened when our entire community wore “Team Madison” pink the day she “rang the bell”.   

But truth be told, the best support I received came when people took the time to take care of Madison.  There were so many days where I felt I could not do anything right; when Madison would stop speaking to me because we had just spent so much time together, or when she was mad at me because I would not “break her out” and take her home.  And that is when I found some pretty special people who I feel blessed to call our “hospital family”.  To the nurses who don’t get paid enough to deal with the fits Madison gave them, yet took the time to play Barbie’s or with playdough – Thank you!  To her doctors and surgeons who were far too busy to sit and chat with Madison, but did because she asked – Thank you!  To our child-life specialists who somehow got Madison to get out of bed and walk – Thank you!  To the people in the cafeteria who spoke to Madison and told her how beautiful her smile was – Thank you!  To every single person in Seacrest Studios who made sure that Madison was not seen as a patient but rather as a rock star – Thank you!  To the entire ISF team who would rearrange their schedules just because you knew Madison needed some play time – Thank you!

The importance of being supported is just knowing that there are people who are willing to help.  

Donate in honor of these incredible women, your donation to the Isabella Santos Foundation helps fund research so desperately needed for rare pediatric cancer patients.

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